Dealing with it all

The storm is a-brewin'

So, yesterday I pulled out my Big List Of All The Stuff That TBI Can Bring, and I checked off all the issues I’ve had going on with me for the past couple of weeks. And after looking at everything — realistically — and realizing how much I’ve had going on (and after getting some nice comments from a reader) I’ve settled into feeling pretty positive, overall, about getting through this time.

A couple of years back, I would have been completely — and I mean completely — derailed over this extended episode. I had my moments (well, days actually) of really Bad Behavior, but I can’t get fixated on them. They’re just part of everything, and the important part is that I’ve moved through, learned my lessons, and I’m able to communicate to others the conditions that can (and will) cause others considerable suffering, if they repeat this cycle again. And I can tell them why. And I can tell them how to avoid it all.

So surprise, surprise, I’m human after all. But even more than that, I’m able to transcend and transform the whole experience into something that can benefit others at work.

And on top of that, I get a whole new appreciation for how far I have truly come in the past several years. Three years ago, I might have just bolted from the situation — just picked up and left. Or gone ballistic and gotten myself fired. Three years ago, I might have collapsed under the pressure and not recovered. That’s how it was for a few years… drifting from job to job, not really digging in anywhere, and certainly not pushing myself to really perform.

This time is different. And I realize that I’ve developed some pretty effective techniques for handling the truly rough spots that used to derail me. I’ve got to get going to work in a few minutes, but I do want to talk in detail about the ways I’ve managed to handle this ridiculous level of crap.

First, in the Behavioral department, here’s how I handled things:

[x]  Impulsiveness – I realized, a few days into the project that being overly impulsive and jumping from task to task was never going to help me get it all done. I had to build 8 different versions of a somewhat complex website in 8 different languages, and I had to coordinate pulling together all sorts of media, text, and regional resources in an extremely short timeframe. After going at things sort of willy-nilly for a few days, I started to melt down and was having huge problems handling the workload. So, I collected all my information and make up a plan, breaking out the different kinds of tasks that needed to be done, instead of jumping from one thing to the next. I call it “the jumping spider syndrome” where I’m all over the place, hopping from one apparent problem to the next without any rhyme or reason, and like a jumping spider, where I land is never very predictable, and it’s never a given. But when I sat down with my lists of Things That Had To Be Done and I organized them all in my head, things started to sort themselves out. I even spent a whole day (a week ago Saturday) not “doing” anything, but thinking through how I was going to do everything — planning it out, getting clear in my head about what my plan of attack would be. Then on Sunday, I got sick as a dog, and I had more time to think (when I wasn’t asleep or in excruciating pain).

[x]  Aggression (verbal/physical) – Holy smokes, was I on a tear for the first week. I was seriously aggressive over the project. The people who had made the arrangements that put me in that tough spot were gallivanting around, busy being important, and there I was left holding the f*cking bag. Their f*cking bag. I was doing all the work, and they were taking all the credit. Idiots. My aggression was off the charts, in large part because there was so much friggin’ work to do, the project was already 2 months late, I had lost 2 weeks off the end of it, and I was locked on target for getting things done. But perhaps the worst part of it all was that the people who had created the mess suddenly decided they should really help me get things done, and their idea of “helping” me was to encourage me to “take it easy” and “not work too hard”. Had they lost their minds?! What is wrong with people? If this was going to get done in the ridiculously short timeframe that they had locked us all into, I had to work harder, not “take it easy”. Please. So, after having some completely pointless and fruitless conversations with people who were both the cause of the problem and were undermining the solution, I basically blocked myself off from everyone with an attitude that warned everyone I was NOT to be Disturbed until this whole project was done. I told the people whose projects were going to be late that they were going to be late because of this project, and I just got down to work. I focused my aggression on the project at hand, and I basically gave up trying to explain the most basic, fundamental facts of the matter to people who just didn’t get it at all. I didn’t get rid of the aggression. I directed it. I used it. I focused in. And I stayed late into the evenings, getting things done, when all the pains in my ass were out of the office, so I could actually focus, instead of having to stroke their egos and play up to their anxiety. Holy crap… Come to think of it, one of the things that eased the aggression was my deciding that there was actually something wrong with these people and they were handicapped by some invisible challenge that they were blind to. That was my explanation, and I gave up on expecting them to have any sense at all. I decided that their heavy drinking and personal pecadillos had taken too great a toll, and they were simply incapable of behaving like adults. In a strange way, that helped.

[x]  Raging behavior – Again, I was on a tear. I was in a flat-out rage for days on end, and everyone knew not to come near me, not to talk to me, not to interact with me, and if they had anything for me, they should just drop it off at my desk and walk away. All the people who felt guilty were coming around trying to make nice to smooth things over. The only problem is, the only thing that actually smooths things over is people behaving like responsible adults and pulling their weight and using their power wisely… not coming around to make nice and schmooze and pat me on the back and bolster my ego. News flash — that doesn’t work with me. And the more people try to smooth things over, the more suspicious and distrustful of them I become. It’s like someone who beats or cheats on their spouse buying them gifts afterwards. You want to do me a favor? Act like a friggin’ adult and take some responsibility. None of this BS where you prance around, making yourself look fabulous, then think that making others “look fabulous” is going to change a goddamned thing. … Oh, I see the rage is still an issue 😉  Anyway, like with the aggression stuff, I eventually gave up on these people having any sense at all, and I just buckled down and used the rage. It’s so pointless to even discuss this with people who create these scenarios, because they occupy a universe that’s parallel to mine, and parallels by definition never meet. So, there’s no point in trying to explain to people. Just buckle down and do the work. And keep the f*ck away from people till the project is done. Because I’m no friggin’ fun till that’s settled.

Anyway, considering the levels of my indignation and outrage and frustration and just plain pissed-off-ed-ness, I think I’ve done pretty well. I’m not likely to forget this anytime soon. And all the lazy, kiss-ass, brown-nosed people I’ve had to deal with over the past couple of weeks have shown their colors, so now I know what I’m dealing with.

And that’s not all bad.

One thing I noticed — after not taking time to sit and breathe for close to two weeks — is that when I do sit and breathe for 10 minutes in the morning and before I go to sleep, I feel a whole lot better about my life and myself. I know things aren’t perfect, but when I balance out my fight-flight with just 10 minutes of stopping, well, that makes all the difference in the world.

I’ve started doing it again. And it helps.

Now, I’ve got to get to work to put this project to bed. Wish me luck.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

8 thoughts on “Dealing with it all”

  1. I love the image of the jumping spider. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been doing that at work too and been paying for it in frustration and moodiness. I think some anger with your co-workers is understandable. It’s annoying when people mess up and you’re the janitor. Especially when the situation can be avoided. Good thing you recognized the TBI was feeding the anger, or at least making it harder to control.

    I hope you nail the project to the wall!

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  2. good luck with your projects and yes breathing is important process in our journey towards recovery.

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  3. WOW! Powerful and insightful! Unfortunately the work ethics of many others leave much to be desired. I don’t know why companies waste time and money on these employees. They must be relatives. It serves no reason to keep them employed. This is especially difficult with TBI, because you’re already dealing with so much, and dealing with these employees adds to ones daily problems. You’re doing an admirable job dealing with this nonsense. Is it just more obvious after TBI how ignorant and dysfunctional others are? They have more problems than we could even imagine. I bet if you slack off it would be brought to the forefront immediately. Great job, but take care of yourself. No one else will.

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  4. Thanks – yes, I’ve discovered/decided that even sitting and taking 10 steady breaths first thing in the morning or before I go to sleep at night will help me tremendously. I haven’t had a lot of time to move at my own pace, lately, but at least I can get a handful of breaths in. It’s amazing how much it helps.

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  5. Thanks. You’re right about the slacking off. If I do it, then it’s “tut-tut-tut”, but if others do it, it seems they’re entitled. How exactly does this work? I really don’t get it. Anyway, I’m just going to keep working, because it’s what I do. It’s what I care about. It’s what gives my life structure and meaning and purpose. If others don’t benefit from doing decent work, then it’s their loss. It’s my aggravation, but it’s really their loss. And I would never want to be them.

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